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The Market Clock is Ticking… – By Ciaran McGuigan

The Market Clock is Ticking

Tick, tick, tick….. if you listen carefully you can hear the market moving. It never stops – always moving, changing, finding the path of least resistance.

Often when the market changes – it comes as a surprise. You may find your infrastructure, setup, overheads, sales team skills and makeup are wrong for the current market. Tempus Fugit!

At this time of year a lot of businesses are planning or reviewing their performance. With this in mind I have included my guide / clock which may help you understand what behaviors to look for and what your focus should be for you and your team.

Here is how to read the model. Just like a clock it reads from 12 Midnight clockwise. Start in the center & chose the center quadrant which best describes your current business:

  • Peak: Business is booming and never been better,
  • Shrinking: Business is falling and very competitive,
  • Slump: Business is at best flat and it is even hard to find low margin work,
  • Expanding; Although not highly profitable, inquiries are increasing and demand seems to be growing.

The next circle represents the key activity the business owner / director needs to deploy to that market context;

  • Negotiating with your suppliers, employers and any contracted providers. Generating more competitive terms with clients and suppliers alike
  • Investing: Key infrastructure, software and support services. Investing in research, strategy product development management and planning.
  • Marketing: Communicating brand values internally and externally. Good public relations, media coverage, making news – being newsworthy & getting your value in-front of your prospects
  • Selling: Leaving no money on the table – maximizing your revenue & sustainably harvesting the market

The next (third) Circle represents your key focus with your sales team

  • Firing: Get rid of the non producers. If the bottom 20% of your team don’t even earn their own salary – I bet if you had to pay for them with your own salary you would let them go. So be nice but be firm.
  • Motivating: Now your team is smaller – although they have the skills – they need to be motivated and engaged with the challenge – so create incentives – make them short term and based on behaviors as well as results.
  • Hiring: Inquiries are coming in and demand seems to be growing although your margins are still low – now is the time to be recruiting and building your capability – although this will increase your short term overhead it will ensure you are well placed to profit from the next market cycle.
  • Training: Invest in the tactical selling skills and behaviors your team need to maximize every sales opportunity

The final – outside circle represents the ‘mindset’ of your team in relation to the prevalent market conditions. I encourage you to study the model and relate where your business is and then how your current strategies, tactics and behaviors relate back to the market and importantly what you are doing to prepare for the next stage.

Each quadrant of the clock is not balanced – ie if your market has been flat or in a slump for x2 years it does not mean the next period will be of the same length. Your particular business may go through the entire cycle on a monthly basis where others may spend years in each quadrant. The key thing is to adapt and change your strategy and tactics, find areas which are in expansion and growth and move into those asap.


Time for Coffee

In North Sydney up the road from my office is a small coffee shop. There is nothing particularly unusual about this shop – it looks like any one of the thousands of other cafes and restaurants littered across the country.

Each morning as I walk by on the way to my office there is a fantastic smell of freshly roasted coffee beans swirling around the pavement delighting pedestrians’ noses as they walk by. This fantastic, evocative aroma wakens my and all other commuters’ senses. Something they are doing works. Inside, groups of customers are seated on bentwood chairs, leaning in on small round tables holding their latte or flat white cupped in their hands deep in conversation. The working day has started and the buzz of laughter and conversation empowers the beginning of their day.

Now only a short walk, just some 10 meters away, I also regularly pass by another café – this one is noticeably quieter. Almost library like, a few silent customers are sitting alone reading the morning’s first edition. This bugs me – why is this so? Why is one café flat out and another struggling? I think the first coffee shop does actually sell better coffee but not that good. Not good enough to explain why their business is at least five times busier.

Prompted by this puzzle each day this question has been bouncing about my mind looking for resolution. Recently one Saturday afternoon while watching my son’s football team playing in their local league I started thinking about sport and winners and losers in relation to the café scenario.

Often the difference between coming first and second is very small in terms of actual technical performance [hundredths of a second in a 100m sprint] but vast in terms of reward for the athlete. Take golf for example. In golf the difference between the world’s best and players ranked much lower [around 150th down the list] is about one stroke for each round played. An average round of golf will take 72 shots. In his best year Tiger Woods earned over 115 million dollars – many times the revenue of those whose actual golfing ability is really not that far off.

My point is this; it is essential when you are starting out on any venture to aim to be the very best. Identify the characteristics of the current #1 business; create a measure and set targets and goals to exceed them. If your business is to be successful you can’t afford to be second in sales.

An excerpt from  ‘How to Build a World Class Sales Team’ by Ciaran McGuigan

Prioritise your prospects – Ciaran McGuigan

Would you agree that some prospects are more
valuable than others? You can easily waste time and
effort on the wrong prospect. They are easy to
recognize, they are usually easy to get hold of, have
lots of time to see you and tend to avoid making
decisions. Your activity should be prioritized according to a ‘contact
value’ system you have set up.

Write down the six main types of roles that you prospect to and then
put them in order according to their authority to make independent
YES decisions (everyone can make NO decisions). This means that
they have the power to decide without consulting others. The further
down the ‘food chain’ the less YES power they will have. Once you
have them in order allocate a point value for each position. Below is a
sample prospecting value system. Yours will be slightly different
according to industry / service.

Position Points
M Director / Owner / CEO – 12
Line Manager / Head of Dept  – 9
Senior Influencer – 8
Centralised Manager – 6
Other Director – 4
Company Contact – 2

This is an excerpt from ‘The World’s best Sales Tips’ by Ciaran

Find out more about how Strike Force Sales can help you with prioritizing your prospects by visiting our website: